Dealing with Stress in my Forever Life

On this day, two years ago, we arrived back in Australia after living in other countries for the prior ten years. It has been exciting, wonderful, and fun to be back, but much to my amazement, it has taken me the best part of these two years for me to settle into life here.

I now see my expatriate life as a Temporary Life. Even though I made friends and a life for myself in each country we lived in, everything was done with the subconscious knowledge that I wouldn’t be staying in that life forever. My Forever Life would happen when I moved back to Australia.

So I fought against the notion that my dreamed of Forever Life was making me stressed. I touched on this in a previous post, Repatriation can be Hard.

That stress peaked a few months ago, forcing me to examine why it was happening. My life has been blessed and it shamed me to complain when I’m very aware of  how lucky I am, but shame just added to my discontent, so I asked myself three questions:

  1. How can I share my time among all the things I want to do without getting stressed?
  2. How can I replace the close friends that died while I was away.
  3. What is my purpose?

The answer to question one came to me when I took a step back from all the high expectations I placed on myself. My tendency towards obsessive compulsiveness means that I spend far longer on tasks than most other people. Recognising this, I gave myself permission to ignore my To Do List for a week. That helped me discover that when I didn’t stress about what I wasn’t achieving, I had more time and energy. My stress was the problem, making me too tired to manage everything. Since then, I’ve learnt to let myself off the hook when I’m feeling overwhelmed, and I’m now achieving more. 

Which brings me to question two. I was seeking replacements for the friendships I had before I left. Friends that lived close to me, people I could drop in on at any time and know I’d be welcomed. I was looking for a particular kind of friend to fill the hole that wasn’t as obvious in my Temporary Life, but was a gaping wound in my Forever Life. It wasn’t that I didn’t have friends, my problem was that I didn’t have THOSE friends.

Then, I read something that resonated with me when I altered the words a little to this:

Instead of trying to find the perfect friend, find the perfect in the friends you have.

The close friends that died while I was away are irreplaceable, so I grieve for them when I miss them, but it’s okay because I have other wonderful friends who now fill me up and make me happy.

And it was one of those friends that guided me to question three when she told me she was reluctant to retire because she feared feeling purposeless. She’s a nurse, as I was, and thinking about what she’d said, I realised that we had both felt our lives held real purpose as mothers and nurses. We were carers and we still are, but I now care for my family, friends, and grandchildren. It’s not a purpose that engenders the same level of appreciation that caring for strangers did, but acknowledging that the role is important to me has stopped me from resenting the time it was taking from the many other things I wanted to do. Caring is my purpose.

These questions helped me to be a little more forgiving of myself, and to pay more attention to what I have rather than what is missing from my life. My stress was caused by imagined problems.

My Forever Life isn’t perfect, and it’s bound to present me with further worries from time to time, but I hope to keep these lessons in mind. 

What do you do to relieve your stress?

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How Can People be so Heartless?

Two weeks ago, Anti–Islamic groups, Reclaim Australia and the United Patriots Front, held protests in Australian capital cities, but they were met with much larger numbers of Anti-racist protesters. Unfortunately, clashes with the police resulted in an ugly outcome in Melbourne, but despite this, I was heartened to see the numbers of people taking a stand against racism was much larger than those expressing the anti-Islamic views. You can read about it here.

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The same weekend, a similar outcome occurred when the Ku Klux Klan organised a rally in South Carolina against the removal of the Confederate flag. They were also outnumbered by those objecting to their ideology.

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On a much smaller issue, recent weeks have seen a lot of publicity in Melbourne about an aboriginal football player, Adam Goodes. I don’t follow the football, and I know little about the issue, but I believe that Goodes upset people initially by his response to a young girl who racially abused him in 2013, and since then, his aboriginal antics have made many non-aboriginals feel threatened, or uncomfortable. I’m assuming this is what has led to the recent trend for the football crowds to boo him whenever he gets the ball.

There are many who believe this mass booing should stop, calling the behaviour racist. Those who support the crowd’s taunts, say their behaviour is not racist, it happens because they don’t like the man.

You can find arguments for both sides here, and here.

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As someone whose football knowledge is very limited, I’m not prepared to enter into either side’s arguments, but I am not proud of the way the Australian Football crowds are treating Goodes.  In my mind, those who claim their right to join a crowd booing a football player for any reason, are taking part in mass bullying. To hear a crowd come together to make someone aware of their dislike for him, is nasty. It’s unkind.

On a much smaller scale, I received a lovely email from a fellow blogger today. I found her blog very early in my blogging adventure and have enjoyed her posts ever since. She writes anonymously, often and well, about her life, her family, her anxiety issues, her work, and her interests, but recently her blog was discovered by a co-worker who disapproved of something she wrote and shared the information among other colleagues. It saddens me that my ‘virtual’ friend feels she needs to bring her blog to an end because she no longer knows who she can trust among her readers, or who might use her deepest thoughts to create gossip in her workplace.

Love – 2   Hate – 2

I have no idea why some of my friend’s work colleagues behaved the way they did, and I only have a vague idea as to why Adam Goodes has been targeted by many football followers, but I do understand the objection to the anti-Islamic groups.

Why do people judge so quickly? Why are some so eager to put down, hate, or hurt one another? How can people be so mean?

We are all different, not just in ethnicity, religious beliefs, or nationality, but in opinions and ideas. There’s no way everyone will agree on all issues, but does that really mean we should attack those who don’t agree with us?

Being Islamic doesn’t make you a bad person, nor does being an aborigine, or a footballer, or a blogger, but being unkind to another human doesn’t make you a good person either. Being rude or nasty to someone you dislike won’t change their behaviour, it only serves to hurt and anger them.

I choose to act with love and trust, rather than hate and fear. There is more good in the world than evil. I see kindness, love, and compassion everyday in the small actions of people everywhere, but I suspect some don’t understand the effect of their actions, good or bad, on others.

As a dyed-in-the-wool hippie (without the drugs), the words to the song Easy to be Hard (written by Ragni, Gerome/Rado, James/Mac Dermot, Galt.) keeps running through my head:

How can people be so heartless?
How can people be so cruel?
Easy to be hard, easy to be cold

You can hear the song here.

You don’t have to like or accept those with different opinions to yours, but leading by example is generally a far better way than using anger or rudeness to change someone’s views.

Let’s stop bullying and hurting one another.

Let’s Inspire Each Other

Inspire

Whenever anyone has told me I inspired them to take some positive action in their life, I felt rewarded and highly satisfied. It’s a good feeling, and one that is easy to pay forward.

Some time ago, I was told about how one woman’s day was brightened when my brother–in–law waved to her from across a busy road. She obviously admired my brother–in–law because she recounted the event to his wife years later. It had changed her mood that day, and made her feel better about herself. It really brought home to me how easy it is to make another person feel better about themselves, or to brighten someone’s day in some way. It’s so simple that most of the time, we’re not even aware it’s happening.

Recently, I was nominated for the “Very Inspiring Blogger Award” by Hugh, of Hugh’s Views and News, which was very nice of him, but the best part of this award was the reason he nominated me. Here it is –

Juli was the very first person to send me a message saying “well done” after I declared to all my classmates that I had Dyslexia.  Her message gave me the confidence I was looking for to get serious about blogging.

I know I typed those two words because I meant them, but I had no idea they would add to Hugh’s confidence. I didn’t do anything special, I was in the right place at the right time to be the first to give Hugh what he was bound to hear from others anyway. Once again, I was reminded of the privilege we all have, every single day, to be able to make someone else feel better in some way. And it’s so easy – an email, a phone call, a comment on a blog or Facebook, or maybe just a smile at a passing stranger.

Thank you, Hugh for honouring me. You’ve inspired me to respond to your award.

Blogging is a curious past time, because you begin to consider some people you’ve never met, as friends. I find I read many posts purely for this reason – I want to know what’s going on with my blogging friend.

Hugh is one of my newer blogging friends, and I don’t want to disappoint him, but recently, I’ve not been involved enough in the blogging world to give justice to the requirements  of this award. Still, I’ll do what I can.

First and foremost, I recommend you check out Hugh’s posts. Most are amusing, all are entertaining. He also writes short stories that take seconds to read, but are often thought provoking, stimulating, and fun.  Go on, go have a look at his site by clicking here.

I was also nominated for this award in January 2013 by Cossette at Stumble Down Under. I can take a while to get around to some things! Sorry, Cosette.

Stumble Down Under was one of the first blogs that caught my eye when I began blogging, because Cosette was undergoing a very similar life change to mine, except in reverse.  She lived in Miami. Florida before moving to Melbourne, Australia to be with her partner. It amazes me how often her experiences are the exact opposite of what I lived through when we moved to Florida. It is proof of the power of the culture we grow up in, and how it can be difficult to accept a different one.

These days, what I love most about Cosette’s blog, are her informative entries on what’s happening around Melbourne. I first learnt about Melbourne’s White Night through Cosette, and this week she posted photographs and details from her experience with the Melbourne Open Doors weekend.  She inspires me to visit places and see things in my own home town and I love it. Have a look at her photographs of the places she visited last weekend by clicking here.

Now on to the rules for accepting the award.  Here they are:

1. Thank and link to the amazing person(s) who nominated you.
2. List the rules and display the award.
3. Share seven facts about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
5. Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger(s) who nominated you.

Let’s do it.

Firstly, thank you to both Cosette, and Hugh for nominating me.

very-inspiring-blogger-award

Seven Facts about myself:

  1. I’m a Beatlemaniac, have been since I first heard their songs when I was fourteen.  Love their music, loved them, and always will.
  2. I planned to marry John Lennon – not until after his wife had tragically died too young, of course. What went wrong? I have no idea, but I’m really glad Cynthia didn’t die.
  3. I’ve achieved something I never believed I was capable of – written a fictional story. In fact, I’ve written a few. If I can do that, anyone can!
  4. My name is Julianne, which I like, but it always felt too formal for my lackadaisical ways, so Juli is what I’m called. If my parents had lived long enough, I wonder if they would be disappointed that their Julianne was such an informal person. I like to think they wouldn’t mind.
  5. I spent most of my younger years rejecting the so called feminine tasks of cooking, sewing, and cleaning. Now, I wish I was a better cook who could create her own clothes and keep on top of the housework.
  6. I tend to be a bit obsessive about things that I’m interested in – health, birth, diet, nature, writing.
  7. I love dogs and anticipate always having a dog as one of the characters in all my novels.

Now to the part I’m going to fail with. Fifteen is a lot of blogs. I follow a lot more, so I simplified the task by choosing those I still read fairly regularly. I’d recommend you look at any of them if the subject matter appeals to you. The first few are the ones I rarely miss reading any of their posts.

Blogs I enjoy:

  1. Hugh’s Views and News – see above.
  2. Stumble Down Under – see above.
  3. The Cranky Giraffe – G, or the cranky giraffe, is another blog I began following when I first started exploring the blogosphere. She writes about her life as a medical student in Canada, –  she’s a doctor now – her desire to specialise in Obstetrics and Gynecology, her family, her interests, and her past. Initially it was her involvement in obstetrics that attracted me, but she writes well on so many interesting topics, that I’m now just generally interested in whatever she has to say. I’m also a wee bit jealous that she chose to blog anonymously and wish I’d thought of that before I went public. However, as my reason for blogging was to develop an internet presence to help promote my writing, I guess that would have been pointless, but I love the freedom it gives G to write without knowing who her audience is.
  4. Table of Colors –  I also discovered Laila in my early blogging days and was instantly captivated by her beautiful images and intriguing recipes (See fact #5). Laila was born in the US, but lives in rural Finland with her children and Finnish husband. Her lifestyle is very different to mine, but that is why I love her posts. She writes about the customs and traditions of Finland – especially those associated with food – and her photos are always stunning. The images she takes of her cooking preparations look like something you’d find in a top notch foodie magazine, and the pictures of the finished products look good enough to eat. I also enjoy the photos of her children and their family adventures.
  5. An American in Norway – Cindi is, as her blog states, an American living in Norway. There were two reasons I was drawn to her blog. Firstly, I have young friends in Norway and have loved my visits to the country, and secondly, Cindi is an expat living away from her adult children, as I was. But it is her love of nature and her dog, her appreciation for her experiences, and her cheery writing style that keeps me coming back for more.
  6. Cathy @ Still Waters – Cathy is an Australian who lives near where I grew up, and I love her fun take on life, her photos of her garden and the Australian landscape.
  7. Leanne Cole Photography – I’m drawn to Leanne’s photography and her knowledge of photography. She also lives in Melbourne.
  8. Kirstin Lamb’s Blog – Kirstin is a writer who writes clever, amusing posts on writing that I connect with and learn from continually.
  9. Janeyinmersin – Janey is another expat Australian, living in rural Turkey. She writes about the community she lives in, and it’s customs which are far removed from those of her Australian upbringing.
  10. Grace and Space – Sheila’s musings on life and all it throws at her.
  11. Suzanne Egerton – Suzanne is a writing friend and Author of Out Late with Friends and Regrets
  12. Margaret K Johnson – Margaret is a virtual writing friend (I have never met her in person, but we exchange emails), and Author of The Dare Club and The Goddess Workshop. She’s also written many fictional stories for people learning to speak English.
  13. The Jolly Beetroot – Niki posts great recipes created using only natural non-processed foods.
  14. Expecting the Unexpected – Meghan writes beautifully about the tragic loss of her newborn baby girl, a few hours after birth.
  15. Must Be This Tall to Ride – Matt writes about recovering from the break up of his marriage, and fathering his young son.

Thank you all for many hours of good reading, and apologies to those I’ve missed.

 

 

One Last Look at 2013

The first Full Moon of 2014

The first Full Moon of 2014

Before January 2014 and all talk of resolutions and goals disappear, lets take a look at  the resolution list I made in January 2013.

1. Move to Australia to live. – Very happy that this one is now off the list.

2. Find a new home in Australia. – Also happy to have found the home we did!

3. Publish Absent Children That was enormous!

4. Successfully market Absent Children  -How to define success? Millions of sales? Or hundreds. I didn’t get near either of those marks, but despite my avoidance of marketing over the past few months, I haven’t given up yet!

5. Complete first draft of Crystal.  Failing at this has provided me with far more frustration than anything else. I desperately want to finish it, partly because having a second book up there is a marketing tool, but mainly because until it is finished, I can’t know if it works as a story.

6. Meditate regularly (stealing this one, but it has been an intention for two years now, time to make it a reality.) – I began well with this, and felt I benefited, but when life became chaotic, meditation was one of the first things to go. Silly, because I probably needed it more than ever over the last six months. 

7. Maintain good relationships with family and friends  – I believe I’ve succeeded in this one.

8. Read for pleasure as well as work. – I have done this, although perhaps not as much as I’d like to. An important part of my writing life involves critiquing and beta reading for others, and there have been times when I’ve barely managed to keep up with those in recent months.

9. Create two new blogs – one on birthing practices and one on writing– Rethinking this as it still hasn’t happened. I hoped to have blogging down pat by now, but to do it well requires more technical know-how than I’ve been willing to learn this year. I hope I can make time to change that, and when and if I do, I plan to merge the writing blog with the birthing one… maybe.  

10. Enjoy myself. – Overall, I did enjoy 2013 immensely. There were many highs –

  • while still living in Scotland we had visits from Aussie and US friends and family,

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  • visited my brother and his wife in their UK house sit,

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Norway Chile and Florida, January 2013 030 Chile and Florida, January 2013 017

IMG_3007 Chile Jan 2013 036

Since returning to Australia, the good times have continued –

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  • catching up with friends, seeing heaps more of family,

Full Moon Jan 2014 510  Photo by Cindy Townsend

Photo by Cindy Townsend
  •  and celebrated Christmas in our new home.  

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I’m so lucky to have had such a great year, but there have also been a very stressful times; many big decisions made, lots of  money spent and at times, simply too much going on, so this year, I’m shying away from listing goals.

I need to consolidate my new life here before embarking on even a ‘Catherine, Caffeinated’-style of goal setting.

Maybe I’ll make a list next month, or in June? Perhaps December? Or not at all.

Are you a fan of New Year Resolutions?

A New Year, A New Routine (Or, The Problem With Goals)

Wise advice about New Year Resolutions from blogger Catherine, Caffeinated!

CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD

As much as I detest New Year Eve’s with all its enforced fun and depressing reminders that yet another year has gone by and you haven’t achieved all the stuff you swore you would, it does have two things going for it: it comes with fireworks, and it throws open the doors on another fresh, exciting 365 days in which anything could happen.

someecards.com - I can't believe it's been a year since I didn't become a better person.

I had a bit of an epiphany in 2013 about how I go about achieving my goals. (Or not.) I’ve read a lot of books about goal setting and positive visualization and the law of attraction, and the more scientific consensus seems to be that rather than visualizing yourself having achieved your ultimate dream—sitting under an oak tree with Oprah while she insists that everyone in the world runs out right now and buys a copy of your book, for example—your time would be better spent…

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Reflections and Resolutions

This month, I’ve missed blogging on the full moon, acknowledging the summer/winter solstice (depending on which hemisphere you’re in), and I’ve failed to wish you all a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas or whatever other celebrations may have occurred in your life.

Is it too late to do all that now?

Probably. So, to prevent falling further behind, I’d better wish you a very Happy New Year now.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

But before we dive into 2014, let’s take a last lingering look at 2013.

If you Google major world events for the year, you may be tempted to end it all before midnight. There is little to celebrate in what the world news offers us. Click here to see for yourself if you wish.

Image representing Google Search as depicted i...

Image via CrunchBase

Instead, I thought it would be fun to focus on some good news stories, but finding those is a little more difficult with a simple Google search, especially if you look for stories that weren’t prompted by a bad news story to begin with. There are stories about a woman’s kindness towards the man who robbed her, young boys standing up to bullies, and  others about positive actions prompted by someone’s cancer. They are all admirable and show the better side of human nature, but why is it difficult to find a good news story that isn’t the result of some disaster or drama?

Maybe it’s because we are wired to be aware of danger. It’s a survival mechanism and news sources are aware of this – they know the best way to get our attention is to feed us bad news stories. Unfortunately, these days that often results in many people feeling afraid and believing the world is becoming less safe.

I’d rather focus on the positives in life, and a good starting point to do that is to avoid paying too much attention to television news. Instead, I try to notice the goodness around me – the checkout girl at the supermarket as she cheerily chats to shoppers, and the store assistants who are prepared to give that little bit extra to help you. I’m often aware of mothers and fathers listening, playing and talking to their children, explaining something, or having fun with each other, loving. I see it on Facebook, people caring about others – brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, acquaintences and animals. I read about it in blogs and novels and watch stories about kind people in movies.

In general, people are good. Once in a while, you may come across someone not so good, or someone who is angry and unpleasant, but most of the time, if you pay attention you will find that people want to be nice. They care, they love, they give.

I’ve had a wonderful year. I’ve been treated extremely kindly by family and friends, but also by people I’ve only come to know in the virtual world, people I’ve never met. There is kindness and love everywhere, good deeds happen on a daily basis in a normal everyday way.

My resolution for 2014 is to keep choosing to notice the goodness in the people all around me because it makes me feel wonderful.

What about you?

My wish for you all is that you, too will choose to notice and enjoy the goodness in our world.

Let’s all work to make 2014 one of the best years yet.

And So This is Christmas – John Lennon

John Lennon rehearses Give Peace A Chance by R...

John Lennon rehearses Give Peace A Chance by Roy Kerwood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Irrational Fear

When this goes live, we will be on our return flight from a short trip to Norway, a trip which almost didn’t happen.

It’s a little embarrassing to talk about this, but let me give you some background first.

Two of the reasons I was excited about moving to Scotland relate to those two friends I mentioned in the last post, Judy and Monica. They have both died since I left Australia, but as they played such a big part in my life and my children were best friends with their children as they all grew up, I’ve tried to keep in touch with their children.

What does this have to do with moving to Scotland?

Well, one of Monica’s daughters lives here, and one of Judy’s sons lives in Norway. I knew I’d finally be able to visit them both in their homes, something which until then, had been too difficult and expensive.

It’s been great to be such a big part of their lives in the last few years. We’ve had many visits with Monica’s daughter and her family, and we’ve been able to see her children grow into beautiful teenagers.

We visited Judy’s son and his family the first year we were here, the next year they came to stay with us in Glasgow, then we saw them in Australia the third year, and in Oslo again last year. So, I really wanted to have one more visit with them in Norway, before it became that place too far away. But something was stopping me.

Irrational fear.

For some crazy reason, as the reality of living back in Australia drew closer and closer, I developed an irrational fear, a fear that I will never get to live in Australia again. Maybe my fear is there because I want to live in Australia so badly that I’ve created a type of superstition around the event. I can’t imagine why, but it’s like this, I’m scared I will die before I get there, or some enormous Icelandic eruption will prevent me from getting there before I die of old age, or something else… Insane, I know.

But here’s where the really irrational bit comes into play:

Do I stay away from the most dangerous form of transport known to mankind – the car? No, I’m happy to drive or be driven anywhere.

Do I shun full fat foods and take drugs to lower my cholesterol? No, I eat what I love and refuse the drugs.

Do I do worry about flying to other countries? Er…yes!

I haven’t developed a fear of flying, I’ve developed a fear of planning to fly!!!

So, I kept deferring making the arrangements, committing to dates, or contacting the people I hoped to visit. Basically, I avoided organising my trip to Norway.

The first time this irrational fear arose was in February this year. I really wanted to visit Iceland before we left Scotland. It seemed silly not to go while we were living so nearby, but I let the time roll on, too afraid to commit to going.

However, eventually I took a deep breath, put on my brave face and committed to the trip. That was when all my silly fears vanished. We had a fantastic few days in Iceland in April and we’ve now had a lovely holiday in Norway, but all this has prompted me to reflect a little deeper than I normally would on the subject of fear.

Biologically, fear is a basic survival mechanism to alert us to prepare for flight or fight in the face of real danger, but those types of danger are rare in our civilised society. Our dangers are far more hidden. I’d be very unlucky to meet up with a tiger and be eaten in Glasgow, but there are numerous ways I could suddenly be thrust into danger in today’s world – car accidents, plane crashes (there, I said it), and illness, but fighting or fleeing won’t help those situations. Perhaps this why we develop other things to be scared of?

Monsters under the bed, spiders, ghosts, moths, mice, birds, never getting to live in Australia again! 🙂

I don’t consider myself a fearful person, nor do I think of myself as superstitious normally, but I can remember past situations where a fear has influenced a decision I made, either I did or didn’t do or say something based on the irrational fear, and it is those occasions that bring me the greatest regrets in my life.

So, I tell myself this, I tell myself it is better to take the action I irrationally fear than to succumb to it. Hopefully, this attitude will lead to many good decisions like the trips to Iceland and Norway, and few regrets.

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Oslo May 2012 055

Is this good advice I give myself? What do you think? Has fear ever prevented you from doing something you now regret? Or maybe your fear isn’t irrational and it serves you well. Let me know.

By the way, I don’t fear planning to go home to Australia!

Give me a home among the gum trees!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLWzPQmd5sc

Choices

When I return to Australia in September this year, it will be the first time there won’t be a dog waiting to greet me.

Kara, Hutch and Claude

Back in 2003, we left three of the family’s dogs with my daughter who continued to live in our home. Three friends. Claude, the renowned beagle of Mt Eliza was very ill when we left and I knew we were saying goodbye to him. He died about a week later, but, Kara, a big, hairy German shepherd with a gentle nature, and Hutch, the kelpie-like mutt who lived to fetch balls, sticks, or anything we cared to throw, were both still young.

I’m not sure if it occurred to me that Kara and Hutch would also be gone by the time we returned to live in Australia. Our future felt so unknown at the time.

Kara died in 2008, and this month, Hutchie left us, too. It broke my heart on many levels, but also brought to mind my grief for the other friends who are no longer there for me to visit. Two of my closest friends, Monica and Judy, already had cancer when we left, but I kidded myself that they were both doing well, the cancer was in remission and they would still be around when we returned. Monica died the following year, but Judy hung on for another two years.

Judy, sitting, and Monica, standing, with my daughter at a farewell lunch.

My third and lifelong friend, my sister Helen – my confidant, adviser, mentor and almost mother substitute – was healthy when we left and I never allowed myself to consider she might also be gone when I returned. But she is. She died in 2011, nine months after her cancer diagnosis .

My sister Helen in Glasgow

When we left Australia, we didn’t know how long we would stay away. We tossed out vague references about allowing three years to assess how we felt but rarely mentioned the possibility of stretching the stay until Tony retired in ten years time. Our friends didn’t want to hear that.

Now, facing no dog to greet me, and massive holes where good friends and family were, I find myself asking the question, would I have made the choice to leave what I knew and loved if I had known my friends would no longer be there when I returned?

What if…?

What if I had chosen the well travelled road?

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Pollock Park

Pollock Park

I can never know the answer. Robert Frost was right when he points out, how way leads on to way. There is no going back to choose the other path, and I guess, like Frost, I tell this with a sigh, but only fleetingly.

Because we lived overseas, my sister spent a full month living and travelling with us in Florida, and another here in Scotland. They were joyful months filled with fun, endless chats and doing things we never had time to do together when we were both working and raising families. If I had stayed in Australia, I would still be working.

I also had the privilege of being able to be with each of my friends in their final days, to spend quality time with them and help care for them, to be the midwife as they made a transition, not into this world, but out of it.  It was an honour  and a gift to be able to spend precious time with them without the normal workday constraints.

I can only guess what my life may have been like if I had stayed, but ultimately, despite moments of sadness, I’m glad I chose the less travelled path.

Currently, that path has me in Scotland’s Summer and last week, the slightly warmer temperatures encouraged me to choose to go for a walk and take some photographs. The Scots know how to make the best of a small city garden and the conditions here bring the gardens alive with beautiful flowers in the summer.

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I agonised over the decision to leave Australia, but returning is a given. That’s because my heart has made the choice for me, and when the heart decides, there’s no argument.

Do you have a hard time making big decisions? Do you follow your heart, or let your head get in the way?